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|Some of last summer's dill pickles|
When my uncle asked me if I wanted some pickling cucumbers, I wanted to shout "YES!" from the rooftops. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is better than a crispy, crunchy dill pickle. Unless it's a teeny-tiny sweet pickle eaten with cheese can crackers, but that's another post.
Anyway, on to the pickles. I ordinarily just pickle my cukes with dill, garlic and a grape leaf. This year, however, since I had the chance to grab some early on I wanted to try a brined pickle. I used my handy dandy Ball Blue Book and found a recipe to try.
Brined Dill Pickles
10 lbs cucumbers
3/4 cups pickling spice
2 to 3 bunches fresh or dried dill (I used 4 Tablespoons of dill seed)
1 1/2 cups canning salt
2 cups vinegar
2 gallons water
6 cloves peeled garlic (optional)
Now here's how you do it~
Take a 5 gallon food safe bucket and pour boiling water into it. Very carefully swish the water around, getting all the way to the top and making sure to get all the sides. Dump water out and set the bucket aside where it will stay immaculately clean. Wash and drain cucumbers. Please make sure to meticulously clean them, even one speck of dirt or grime can spoil your whole batch of pickles.
Add 1/2 of the pickling spices and dill in a layer on the bottom of the bucket.
Then you add the cucumbers up to about 4 inches from the top. In a large (really big) bowl or pot (that's what I do) mix together the water, salt and vinegar. Fill a gallon size zip top freezer bag with about 2-3 cups of the brine and set aside. Pour over the cucumbers.
Some of the pickling spice will float up from the bottom, that's totally ok. Sprinkle on the rest of the pickling spice, dill and chuck in the garlic if you're going to use that (I didn't).
Now, you have to weigh the cukes down under all that brine-y goodness. That's where that freezer bag of brine comes in handy.
I put the bag on top of the pickles and it pushes them under the brine. Why do I fill the bag with brine though? Because if some does happen to leak out, it won't dilute your pickling solution. If it looks like the pickles aren't completely submerged in a couple days, I might put a plate on top of the pickles (after I had sanitized it) and put the bag of solution on top.
And that's it. You set them in a cool place for 2-3 weeks, checking them often and skimming off any mold or foam that bubbles up as necessary.
I'll update you as to how to can them when I get to that point, but we have a little bit of a wait before that will happen ;)